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Social Class And Gender Roles In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen

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In “Pride and Prejudice”, Jane Austen established the impact of how social class and gender roles are influenced by the expectations of the society. Jane Austen classified social class and gender roles as a hierarchy group set by society, in order to limit the freedom of lower class and women. Explaining how one class was favored than the other. Austen illustrates how the lower and average class can’t possibly get rich because the society made a whole barrier separating both the lower class and upper class. In the novel, social class and gender roles are the major themes that influenced the decisions made by the characters. Austin utilizes imagery in the novel to engage her audience and interest them on how women and the lower class were being treated unfairly. Society only gives high-ranks choices on what they want whether it’s a female or a male. In the novel, Mr. Bennet and Mrs. Bennet are in the middle class, they have five daughters and they are all unmarried, Mrs. Bennet fantasy is to get her daughters married to higher classmen in order to ensure that they’re safe and happy, which would be difficult in this case because her family isn’t classified as part of the upper class. Women consider marriage to get rich rather than true happiness or true love. The lower class women you have absolutely no role in society unless if you are married or have a functioning male family member. Both females, average class and lower class had difficulty making their decisions because their freedom is limited.

In this novel Austen demonstrated how Elizabeth’s intention about societal expectation changed rather than marrying for power, she chose to wed for affection and find true love which every Women lacks potentially because the society isn’t based on such instead, they believe in power. “ I have said no such thing. I am only resolved to act in that manner, which will, in my own opinion, constitute my happiness, without reference to you, or to any person so wholly unconnected with me.” ( Austen 338). However, Mrs. Bennet couldn’t see Elizabeth’s point of view, and what she desires and focuses on was based on her getting her daughters’ married, in order to ensure their protection because she won’t always be there to help them neither is their father. Women are seen as powerless with less ability, they have no access and depend on their spouses or father most especially if they’re rich. In this case, Mrs. Bennet and her daughters rely on Mr. Bennet who is the head of the family, he is the only one able to provide for the family. Elizabeth didn’t come from a rich family neither is she poor, but the fact that she isn’t as privileged as the high class, getting married was difficult for her. “It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.” (Austen 5). This quote explains however wealthy men have the right to decide to marry anytime without being questioned, they may need a wife just to have a companion while women who aren’t as rich as the upper class have to be married in order to be protected. In this novel, marriage is being taken as negotiation in order to protect females and to secure their pride, wealthy women have the right to choose what they want based on their financial background but the low-class decision has been determined even before they realize. Marriage is the only thing women rely on as their future.

In this novel love isn’t viewed as a commitment before getting married. Marriage is seen as an obligation that needed to be carried out, such agreement benefits lower-class women such as Elizabeth and her sisters. There are three categories Austen described in the novel, the lower class, middle class and the upper class. The lower and middle class are seen as a disadvantage to society while the upper class is seen as the pillar of the society, they have the ability to make their own decisions on whatsoever they want. In “Pride and Prejudice”, not only the lower classmen are less privileged but also women that are from either lower class or middle class. “Mr. Bennet was among the earliest of those who waited on Mr. Bingley.” (Austen 8). Mr. Bennet visited Mr. Bingley to see if he was interested in one of his daughters. Mr. Bingley is a man of honor who is well known for his richness along with his friend Mr. Darcy. Since Mr. Bennet is an average man, he tried to take advantage of his position associating with the rich for social benefits and for his daughter’s safety. Women have absolutely no right to claim their father’s properties because only the heir has access to it. Therefore they can’t possibly make their own decision on whom they want to marry, except their parents are in agreement with it. In this case, Mrs. Bennet doesn’t want to marry her daughter to whoever except they are capable of providing for themselves and also taking care of their daughter’s needs. Women from the lower-class couldn’t make decisions unless a male member of the family stands out. As the male of the house, Mr. Bennet had to take further steps in getting his daughters married because when he dies only the next male of the family gets to keep the property and females are always left with nothing other than marriage. Without Mr. Bennet’s connections, he wouldn’t have come across Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy, because Mr. Bennett is in the middle class, he had slightly more opportunity than that of the lower class forgetting to meet with the high position individuals, even though the chance of them negotiating is poor.

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Mr. Darcy and Mr. Binley first met the Bennet sisters at the Meryton ball, where Mr. Bingley asked Jane for a dance. After some time they both developed an affection for each other but Mr.Darcy thought Jane didn’t like his friend but just wanted to take advantage. When Elizabeth found out Mr. Darcy was the main problem, she thought Mr. Darcy was prideful. Elizabeth hated Mr. Darcy because of his he thinks women from the lower class can’t give true love but rather wants riches. Mr. Bingley and Jane liked each other even though they both know the consequences they will face, they still decided to be together. Mrs. Caroline who is Mr. Bingley’s younger sister was against the relationship between her brother and Jane Bennet. “ I have an excessive regard for Jane Bennet, she is really a very sweet girl, and I wish with all my heart she was well settled. But with such a father and mother, and such a low connection, I am afraid there is no chance of it.” (Austen 36). Jane tried to endure whatever comes her way with her love with Mr. Bingley, with the fact that society won’t accept them. Jane Austen established the significance of love in comparison with social status. Both Jane and Elizabeth want a man with a genuine heart instead of a prideful man. Even though the society already set a standard, they want to go beyond limitation and back the “Love” most females desire. “ A person may be proud without being vain. Pride relates more to our opinion of ourselves, vanity to what we would have others think of us.” ( Austen 26). The society makes vanity out of the lower class by controlling every aspect of them, rich people have authority over the poor. Even though Jane and Elizabeth are aware of their social status they still stood by their words and made their decisions. Mr.

Bingley decided to marry Jane instead of Darcy’s sister Georgianna. Both the society and Bingley’s family aren’t in support of Jane and Bingley’s relationship. Mr. Bingley’s sister Caroline thinks if Georgiana could marry her brother, both parties will benefit from each other because both individuals have a high position in society. “ Mr. Bingley, if he had been imposed on, would have much to suffer when the affair became public.” (Austen 85). Due to Jane’s status as a lower class, she wasn’t qualified to marry the one her heart desires and her sister Elizabeth developed grudges against Darcy, which made her become prejudiced. Elizabeth describes Mr. Darcy to be a prideful man without knowing the reasons behind his actions. In the novel, Jane Austen explained how upper-class men are all classified as a “prideful” in the society, even though Elizabeth never spoke to Darcy, she has always had in mind that he was prideful because of his position in the society.

In “pride and prejudice”, Austen described the mutual affection both Darcy and Bingley had towards the Bennet’s sisters. Both Elizabeth and Jane exceeded the limitation bound by society and engaged their emotions rather than a benefit. Even though the society describes the higher class as “prideful”, Darcy and Bingley lowered their standard for their loved one and eliminated the mentality to social status. Even though Jane had a slight doubt about Darcy’s affection for her because she isn’t compatible with him and she knows marriage is a negotiation that is supposed to benefit both parties but since Darcy is one of the richest in the society, there isn’t anything to offer him. The society made the situation harder for these couples by making their difference separate their motives. Austen explains why women always seem to care about their pride since it’s the only valuable thing they seem to have. Women are meant to be in the kitchen, doing house choice and keeping the family safe instead of working and experiencing life outside their homes.

In the novel, Jane Austen described how social class and gender roles influence the characters by limiting their freedom. Austen explained how the setting of this novel was greatly impacted based on the circumstances both females and the lower class faced in making their decisions.

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Social Class And Gender Roles In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved January 31, 2023, from
“Social Class And Gender Roles In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
Social Class And Gender Roles In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 31 Jan. 2023].
Social Class And Gender Roles In Pride And Prejudice By Jane Austen [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Jan 31]. Available from:
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